Internships can be a wonderful way to gain insights into a particular organisation, area or way of working. However, before you start it is important to be clear what you want to get out of it, and what the company employing you wants to get out of it.
For a start, are they employing you? Minimum wage legislation states that if you have set hours or specific tasks that are your sole responsibility, then you should be paid at least the minimum wage. However, many internships are unpaid – some of these may be breaking the law. Many people are happy to work for free in exchange for experience and references, but this has the obvious problem of meaning that only those with independent means, willing and able parents, and/or a floor to sleep on so they don’t have to pay rent can take up the opportunities offered by an internship.
There are some fantastic internships out there, including the Poetry Society’s own Foyle Young Poets internships which are paid, but they are highly competitive. You need to do your research and make sure that you are not being exploited.
Convinced you want an internship? Worked out how you’re going to eat during it? Then read on for our top tips on getting your hands on one:
- Do your research. I can’t stress this enough. All internships are highly competitive, so you have to show that you know the organisation and have done some background work.
- Write to a specific person, if possible. This not only demonstrates that you have done some basic research, but means they are more likely to respond to your query.
- Explain why you want to work for this particular organisation. What is it about them that excites you? Why do you want to work in this particular industry? How can you demonstrate your commitment?
- Proofread your application. Spelling/grammar mistakes and typos make you look sloppy and unprofessional. Get a friend to read your application for you before you send it.
- Remember that the people you’re emailing are busy. Be polite and concise.
- If you are invited for an interview or asked for more information, respond quickly and professionally – and do some more research!
- If you get an internship, make the most of it. Talk to people (make contacts!), complete all the tasks you’re given (learn new skills!) and be keen and respectful (ensure good references!).
If you see an internship as a foot in the door, rather than an open door into your chosen profession, you’re likely to get the most out of it. Good luck!
Top Five Places to Find Your Internship
Young Poets Network Facebook and Ebulletin
Arts Jobs / Opportunities
Arts Jobs is Arts Council England’s job hub covering England and Wales. Most of the positions are paid, however people also use the site to advertise internships. Plus you can sign up to a daily email tailored to your search! Creative Scotland’s equivalent site is Opportunities.
NAWE Young Writers Hub
The NAWE Young Writers Hub lists opportunities, including internships, for aspiring writers. Check out their listings on the “jobs and opportunities” tab, or contact the hub directly to be considered for their own internship programme.
Creative Choices provides information, advice and resources to help you build skills, find new opportunities, or get a better idea about a particular job or career path. They have a jobs and opportunities section, plus articles with useful information like this one.
Ideas Tap is a creative network for young people under 30. It includes information, opportunities and has listings. Plus there are have helpful advice features.
Organisations may not advertise their internships on extrenal sites, make a list of organisation you’re interested in and visit their sites to check if they have an internship programme. If you can’t find any information email them a polite covering letter and CV, but remember do write a specific and well researched query for every organisation you contact. If you send an organisation a one-size-fits-all email it’s probably going stright in the bin!